How Koufax influenced Stewart’s patented intimidating stare originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Even 27 years after his final steps on the mound, the glare hasn’t been forgotten. And on the most recent episode of NBC Sports California’s “All A’s,” Stew revealed to Brodie Brazil how it all came about.
Two words: Sandy Koufax.
Stewart talked about his time playing with the Los Angeles Dodgers in instructional league after the 1975 and 1976 seasons, but it wasn’t until ‘76 that he started to work closely with Koufax in the bullpen during games.
And in observing Stewart, Koufax walked over to him and gave him a tip that would eventually change his life.
“Sandy, at one point, came to me and he said, ‘Hey, what I’d like from you to do is lower your cap as low as you can, and that will help you to lower your sight,’” Stewart reminisced. “And so as I kept lowering my cap, he kept asking me, ‘What do you see?’ And I said, ‘At this point, all I can see is below the catcher’s neck and below.’
“And he says ‘OK, I’d like for you to start throwing with your cap like that.’ “
And he did.
Every time he took the mound from then on, Stewart lowered the brim of his cap down just above his eyebrows, not even able to see the catcher’s face.
A shadow loomed over Stewart’s face that ended up intimidating hitters as they dawdled to the plate.
Stewart went on to win three World Series while compiling a career 3.95 ERA and a 168–129 won-lost record, including winning 20 games in four impressive consecutive seasons. He pitched for the Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, A’s and Toronto Blue Jays.